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Old 03-24-2008, 02:08 PM   #161
Mithalwen
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Matthew M, I will assume that you have had a sense of humour failure and were not intending to be rude...

It just struck me on listening to the tapes, which is what we are talking about that everything Boromir says is either pompous or negative, just what you want in a travelling companion.
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Old 03-24-2008, 03:17 PM   #162
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Excellent summary Dave. I have only heard the first side of this one and amazingly nearly four chapters are covered. Assuming that the original episodes correspond nearly with the cassette sides this would have been a Frodo-free episode. Obviously that tallies with the book but quite brave I would have thought for the adaptation to omit him for a week.

While we are only at the start of "The Two Towers" but nearly half way through the adaptation, I think that the rapid acceleration mentioned above is possible becasue so much has been set up already. We have heard Saruman, Gollum and Theoden - their own voices not reported speech giving the radio an advantage even over the book. And as Dave has already said the surviving members of the fellowship are more individual - Pippin's impetuosity is seen as a positive for once. The bond between Gimli and Legolas is demonstrated by the way they face up to Eomer together in defence of Galadriel. And Aragorn makes the decision that makes eventual success possible.

And we meet Treebeard. Maybe it it the speakers in the car but I nearly jumped out of my skin at the first HOOM....


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Old 03-25-2008, 10:04 PM   #163
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Hero vs Hero Becoming

This is where I have a different take on Aragorn then what those who are influenced by movie or other adaptations. For me, Aragorn is either Aragorn the Hero from day one, or Aragorn the Becoming/Emerging Hero, and where the becoming is more important then the hero. I guess regardless of adaptation, I feel that Aragorn is not the emerging hero, or the becoming hero, but is the hero from the get go.

Aragorn shows that he is the hero from the beginning in many of his actions, and at times throughout the travels of the Fellowship. We see Aragorn at Bree where Gandalf has left a list of his titles, a poem about him, and his real name. In Rivendell he is seen looking kingly, if not Elven. His actions at the Council further show his nobility and his hero status. On the Journey South, Aragorn challenges Gandalf on going through Moria, which displays his leadership and his deference to Gandalf, whom he knows is a Maia. Next at the Bridge of Khazad-dum, when he is willing to stand with Gandalf and Boromir against the Balrog. We see him move the Fellowship out of danger or closer to Lorien, taking a leadership role there. Celeborn consults with him and it is Aragorn who is making the decisions after Gandalf's fall.

Thus Aragorn's lament here is that in fact a mourn of his decisions in trying to resolve two inner conflicts. I do not believe that Aragorn intended or wanted to go to Mordor with Frodo. Not out of fear, but out of his own desires. I believe that if Gandalf had survived, Aragorn would have gone with Boromir to Minis Tirith. Why? Aragorn's heart was set upon reclaiming the throne of Gondor and Arnor. He would have been recognized as royalty by his people and the mere presence of his Rangers in the North would extend his claim to all of Eriador. In Gondor, the tradition had been set with Earnil, that someone of royal blood who had been victorious in battle and thus had won victory and glory for Gondor would become king. Aragorn's greatest desire was to gain the hand of Arwen. Thus going and showing his power in arms to Minis Tirith would have advanced his own claim as the last descendant in direct lineage from Elendil, something his forefather Arevedui had failed to do and had thus failed to reunite the two realms.

Then after Gandalf's fall, I believe that Aragorn felt that his duty lay with Frodo and with the quest, to destroy the ring. Aragorn again is showing his hero status by surrendering his own will and desires, and moving forward to do the noble and right thing. I think he felt that his duty was to go to Mordor with Frodo, and the breaking of the Fellowship represented to him, a failure of his duty with Frodo. It doesn't mean that he is becoming or moving to being a hero, he is a hero at this point, and throughout the story. That makes sense to me for Aragorn's words here are: Now the Company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf's trust in me. Thus was Aragorn's lament here, not of an emerging King, but of a Lord of Numenor of Old, willing to do his duty, but feeling that his own choices and fate have taken him from his duty. One of the things missing here for me was Aragorn holding Boromir and weeping. I think this cements Aragorn as a hero, and shows his depth of compassion.

We can see this further in Aragorn's comments to Legolas and Gimli when he says I would have guided Frodo to Mordor and gone with him to the end; but if I seek him now in the wilderness, I must abandon the captives to torment and death. My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer.

Aragorn's heart here (and in the adaptations and book) show that his heart was divided between fulfilling his status as a hero by going with Frodo to Mordor and the end, or by going to Minis Tirith and fulfilling that destiny. At last Aragorn is no longer torn and he can now seek his destiny.

Thus Aragorn was not a hero becoming, but was a hero who showed glimpses of his true self when it was appropriate or when it served a purpose.

In terms of Boromir's death, his funeral may have been pagan, and I think we can discuss that, but his death was very Christian, or Catholic. Boromir gave a death bed and final confession. It is very similar to Roland's death who does against a tree with a broken horn next to him. I am very grateful that in the BBC adaptation that the song sung by Aragorn and Legolas was omitted.

I also loved the voice work of Treebeard and felt it was a wonderful job. The whole Treebeard, Merry and Pippin scene really showed how the two Hobbits are developing, while introducing Treebeard.

Finally, for me, the highlight was the scene with Frodo, Sam and Gollum where Frodo reflects on his words on pity and realizes that he has pity for Gollum. This scene was magic for me.

I also noticed an error in the text that DaveM posted on this episode. When Aragorn says:

Aragorn: Gandalf! Beyond all hope you return to us in our need! What veil was over my site?

This really should be sight.

Lots more and I may post more tomorrow. I was out of town and on the northern California coast with my wife, kids, my mother, my two sisters and there families until today. No Internet, no TV, no video games, it was heaven and a welcome break.
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Old 03-26-2008, 06:16 AM   #164
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In terms of Boromir's death, his funeral may have been pagan, and I think we can discuss that, but his death was very Christian, or Catholic. Boromir gave a death bed and final confession. It is very similar to Roland's death who does against a tree with a broken horn next to him. I am very grateful that in the BBC adaptation that the song sung by Aragorn and Legolas was omitted. .
I can't see that you could argue that Boromir's funeral wasn't 'Pagan' (though probably Tolkien would have used the term 'heroic'). Boat/ship funerals - whether by burning, burial or launching the craft onto the sea, are not part of Christian tradition, & we only find Christian grave goods associated with them in societies where pre-Christian traditions have carried over. Also, the West as the place of Paradise originated in Pagan belief & played no part in Christian trradition, where the East (direction of sunrise) was seen as the 'sacred' direction - if any direction was 'sacred'.

Also, one has to take into account the 'invocation' of the four winds/four directions in the funeral song. I honestly can't see any 'Christian' element in the funeral, & the overall feel of the scene is far more reminiscent of Pagan customs. That said, I wouldn't argue that Tolkien was attempting to re-create a 'Pagan' send off, merely that if we look for resonances we will find more in Beowulf than we will in the Bible.

Boromir's death is less clearly 'Pagan', but I think the whole 'deathbed confession/absolution' thing has been pushed way too far by many commentators looking to 'prove' the 'Christian' nature of the work. Boromir does not ask for absolution. He acknowledges his fault in attempting to take the Ring - which one would expect from a warrior at his death, & he asks Aragorn to save his people. Effectively he admits he has done wrong & has paid the price - though its entirely possible to read his words as implying that his real failure in his own eyes was his failure to save his people - ie a tactical, rather than a moral, failure. The death scene may be interpretable in the way you imply, but I think that its more a case of 'applicability' - its not not Christian/Catholic, but that's a long way from saying it is Christian/Catholic. What I mean is, a reader who was only familiar with old legends & knew nothing about Catholic ritual/tradition is not going to read that scene & be left totally confused by what was happening. It makes perfect sense given what we know of the characters & the situation they have found themselves in.

But I digress....
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:12 AM   #165
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Boromir's death is less clearly 'Pagan', but I think the whole 'deathbed confession/absolution' thing has been pushed way too far by many commentators looking to 'prove' the 'Christian' nature of the work. Boromir does not ask for absolution. He acknowledges his fault in attempting to take the Ring - which one would expect from a warrior at his death, & he asks Aragorn to save his people. Effectively he admits he has done wrong & has paid the price - though its entirely possible to read his words as implying that his real failure in his own eyes was his failure to save his people - ie a tactical, rather than a moral, failure. The death scene may be interpretable in the way you imply, but I think that its more a case of 'applicability' - its not not Christian/Catholic, but that's a long way from saying it is Christian/Catholic. What I mean is, a reader who was only familiar with old legends & knew nothing about Catholic ritual/tradition is not going to read that scene & be left totally confused by what was happening. It makes perfect sense given what we know of the characters & the situation they have found themselves in.
Boromir's death can be seen as having Christian ties, as Boromir in his last words did give a confession. His death can also be seen as having pagan ties, like you pointed out. Neither of you are 100% correct. If you analyze something so hard looking for similarities, eventually you will find some on both ends. Boromir's funeral is just that - the funeral of Boromir. Why do you have to over analyze it?
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:31 AM   #166
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Boromir's death can be seen as having Christian ties, as Boromir in his last words did give a confession. His death can also be seen as having pagan ties, like you pointed out. Neither of you are 100% correct. If you analyze something so hard looking for similarities, eventually you will find some on both ends. Boromir's funeral is just that - the funeral of Boromir. Why do you have to over analyze it?
It is the funeral of Boromir, of course. The issue is one of Tolkien's sources, & of what he is trying to evoke.

Compare Boromir's funeral

Quote:
Now they laid Boromir in the middle of the boat that was to bear him away. .... His helm they set beside him, and across his lap they laid the cloven horn and the hilt and shards of his sword; beneath his feet they put the swords of his enemies. Then fastening the prow to the stern of the other boat, they drew him out into the water. .... Sorrowfully they cast loose the funeral boat: there Boromir lay, restful, peaceful, gliding upon the bosom of the flowing water. The stream took him while they held their own boat back with their paddles. He floated by them, and slowly his boat departed, waning to a dark spot against the golden light; and then suddenly it vanished. Rauros roared on unchanging. The River had taken Boromir son of Denethor, and he was not seen again in Minas Tirith, standing as he used to stand upon the White Tower in the morning. But in Gondor in after-days it long was said that the elven-boat rode the falls and the foaming pool, and bore him down through Osgiliath, and past the many mouths of Anduin, out into the Great Sea at night under the stars.
with Scyld Scefing's funeral from Beowulf:

Quote:
þær æt hyðe stod hringedstefna,
In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,

isig ond utfus, æþelinges fær.
ice-flecked, outbound, atheling’s barge:

Aledon þa leofne þeoden,
there laid they down their darling lord

beaga bryttan, on bearm scipes,
on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,

mærne be mæste. þær wæs madma fela
by the mast the mighty one. Many a treasure

of feorwegum, frætwa, gelæded;
fetched from far was freighted with him.

ne hyrde ic cymlicor ceol gegyrwan
No ship have I known so nobly dight

hildewæpnum ond heaðowædum,
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,

billum ond byrnum; him on bearme læg
with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay

madma mænigo, þa him mid scoldon
a heaped hoard that hence should go

on flodes æht feor gewitan.
far o’er the flood with him floating away.

Nalæs hi hine læssan lacum teodan,
No less these loaded the lordly gifts,

þeodgestreonum, þon þa dydon
thanes’ huge treasure, than those had done

þe hine æt frumsceafte forð onsendon
who in former time forth had sent him

ænne ofer yðe umborwesende.
sole on the seas, a suckling child.

þa gyt hie him asetton segen geldenne
High o’er his head they hoist the standard,

heah ofer heafod, leton holm beran,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,

geafon on garsecg; him wæs geomor sefa,
gave him to ocean. Grave were their spirits,

murnende mod. Men ne cunnon
mournful their mood. No man is able

secgan to soðe, selerædende,
to say in sooth, no son of the halls,

hæleð under heofenum, hwa þæm hlæste onfeng.
no hero ’neath heaven, — who harbored that freight!
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:20 PM   #167
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I still think if you are looking to compare his death to a certain mold such as a Christian death or a Pagan death, you will eventually find similarities for both.
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:47 PM   #168
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I still think if you are looking to compare his death to a certain mold such as a Christian death or a Pagan death, you will eventually find similarities for both.
I agree - the danger of confusing applicability & 'allegory' is ever present. One interprets events in the book as one will. Now...I think perhaps we should redirect this discussion to another thread, before we get too far away from the topic & the admins begin to stir....
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Old 03-26-2008, 06:49 PM   #169
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Road Goes Ever On and On

Another thing that I really picked up on in listening is the theme of the various roads that each party is meant to go on. Treebeard declares to Merry and Pippin that "Our roads go together - - to Isengard!"

Aragorn declared that "the fate of the bearer is not in his hands."

Gandalf tells Aragorn that Aragorn must go to Edoras as he is needed there.

Finally, the journey of Frodo and Sam become interwoven with Gollum on the road they take together.

I believe this goes back to that theme earlier found in The Black Riders:

Frodo:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it join some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Surely we see the joining of much larger ways where many paths and errands meet. Finally, from here where will it go, we don't know.

I don't know why, but this episode really brought these points together for me. I'm not sure if that was the intent, but surely we can see how the errands of Merry and Pippin with Treebeard; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli with Gandalf going to Edoras; and Sam and Frodo going to Mordor while meeting a new guide in Gollum.
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Old 03-28-2008, 05:21 AM   #170
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I have only heard the first side of this one and amazingly nearly four chapters are covered. Assuming that the original episodes correspond nearly with the cassette sides this would have been a Frodo-free episode. Obviously that tallies with the book but quite brave I would have thought for the adaptation to omit him for a week.
I've been off the forum for some while and have been playing catch-up. I used to get e-mails telling me when a new posting appeared, but, for some reason, they've stopped...

Anyway, on the subject of Frodo's absence: this is one of the effects of the re-editing of the series from 26 half-hours to 13 one hours. I wasn't involved in or consulted about this process, but I imagine that a couple of Frodo scenes would have been shifted from one half hour to the next so that the scenes could run longer in the hour-format.

I really wish it were possible for people to listen in the original format, but alas...
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Old 03-28-2008, 05:24 AM   #171
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"Always be careful, my boy, what you make up. Life's more full of things made up on the Spur of the Moment than most people realise. Beware of the Spur of the Moment. It may turn & rend you." Frank Baker: 'Miss Hargreaves'.

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Old 03-28-2008, 06:00 AM   #172
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Anyway, on the subject of Frodo's absence: this is one of the effects of the re-editing of the series from 26 half-hours to 13 one hours. I wasn't involved in or consulted about this process, but I imagine that a couple of Frodo scenes would have been shifted from one half hour to the next so that the scenes could run longer in the hour-format.

I really wish it were possible for people to listen in the original format, but alas...
My memory is so hazy regarding the original broadcasts - I only managed to tape teh last three episodes & I've long since lost the tapes . Considering the number of times I've listened to this version I was quite surprised how long it took before we got to Frodo & Sam - not quite as long as the book, but it started to feel that way! I did like the longer scenes with Frodo/Sam/Gollum though. I know the episodes were re-edited again when the film was released to bring them more in line with the books - we're they actually edited to match the books, with the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli/Merry & Pippin storyline complete & then the Frodo/Sam/Gollum storyline following on? I wouldn't mind hearing it done that way.

Quote:
"Always be careful, my boy, what you make up. Life's more full of things made up on the Spur of the Moment than most people realise. Beware of the Spur of the Moment. It may turn & rend you." Frank Baker: 'Miss Hargreaves'.

Dave - Nice to see you quoting Miss H!
Well, you put me onto that one (via the Church House recording). I'd love to hear your adaptation - though I bet it was never made available... don't want to risk Esty's ire by taking the thread off topic, but I'm wondering if Tolkien read Miss H. Its certainly the kind of thing that he was interested in (cf Flieger's 'A Question of Time') & the whole idea of the power of imagination changing reality has echoes in his time travel writings (Notion Club Papers especially). I think the situation as regards getting hold of the novel is about as bad as you indicated when you spoke 20 odd years ago - I got a second hand copy from the limited edition of 300 which came out a few years back & it cost me £30 - well worth the money though. I recomend the book wholeheartedly, btw.

And for anyone who wants to know more about the book, here's a nice essay by Brian http://www.frankbaker.co.uk/sibley.htm
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:26 PM   #173
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Anyway, on the subject of Frodo's absence: this is one of the effects of the re-editing of the series from 26 half-hours to 13 one hours. I wasn't involved in or consulted about this process, but I imagine that a couple of Frodo scenes would have been shifted from one half hour to the next so that the scenes could run longer in the hour-format.

I really wish it were possible for people to listen in the original format, but alas...
That is interesting - since side ends so often correspond with a bit of a cliff hanger I assumend that only the joins were amended. One thing I meant to ask was if you always knew that the series recordings would to the public sold or if this is a happy byproduct of BBC enterprises. I remember coveting the music casette and my mother claiming nothing had taking her so much trouble as obtaining it for me for Christmas. I don't remember the full recording being advertised then (I heard the 13 episode version so I suppose this was 82).

Much as I love the music recording, I do like the way the actors do their own songs in the actual dramatisation. Treebeard and Sam are so well cast but both actors sing their songs very well - were you looking specifically for actors who could sing or would you have dubbed in singers had it been necessary?
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:36 PM   #174
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OK, I would like to join in on the discussion, as I do have some time to listen to the recordings, but I'm having trouble figuring out where the episodes you number start and stop - my box has 10 CDs, but obviously episode 6 and CD 6 are not the same, as I listened to the latter and it's way ahead of what you're discussing here. Is this an idiosyncracy of the German edition I'm using, or is there some way for me to coordinate my recordings with yours?
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Old 03-28-2008, 03:04 PM   #175
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OK, I would like to join in on the discussion, as I do have some time to listen to the recordings, but I'm having trouble figuring out where the episodes you number start and stop - my box has 10 CDs, but obviously episode 6 and CD 6 are not the same, as I listened to the latter and it's way ahead of what you're discussing here. Is this an idiosyncracy of the German edition I'm using, or is there some way for me to coordinate my recordings with yours?
Hmmm.. I don't know how many versions of this adaptation there are.....

The one Mith, Arathornjax, Hookbill & I are using is the 13 episode series, re-edited from the original 26 episodes (which was later re-re-edited into a slightly different form in response to the Jackson movies), so we're using the 'middle' one. Check the transcripts I've been linking to at the start of my introductions for each episode.
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Old 03-28-2008, 03:26 PM   #176
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I believe they were edited to correspond more closely with the book sequence. But otherwise 26 tape sides to 10 cds would mean surely that you should look at the end of 4 and beginning of 5.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:24 PM   #177
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That is interesting - since side ends so often correspond with a bit of a cliff hanger I assumend that only the joins were amended. One thing I meant to ask was if you always knew that the series recordings would to the public sold or if this is a happy byproduct of BBC enterprises.
It was never envisaged that the series would be sold commercially, that was a by-product of its success.

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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
I remember coveting the music casette and my mother claiming nothing had taking her so much trouble as obtaining it for me for Christmas. I don't remember the full recording being advertised then (I heard the 13 episode version so I suppose this was 82).
It was also available as an LP. Stephen Oliver didn't want to use the actors' versions because they weren't good enough singers (a mistake in my opinion) so the disc was recorded later using professional singers (like Oz Clark) and with much of the incidental music extended, such as the Shadowfax theme. The boy soprano's voice had broken in the interim, so his brother sang those songs instead.

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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
Much as I love the music recording, I do like the way the actors do their own songs in the actual dramatisation. Treebeard and Sam are so well cast but both actors sing their songs very well - were you looking specifically for actors who could sing or would you have dubbed in singers had it been necessary?
I agree about the actor's performances of the songs. But, yes, we were aware that some of the characters would have to sing and the fact that they could was a bonus. I doubt they would ever have been dubbed - Ian Holm couldn't sing, for example, so the 'Man in the Moon' song was spoken instead.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:35 PM   #178
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Ah so I wasn't hallucinating when I thought that the singer was sometimes listed as Jeremy Vine. Matthew Vine is now quite well known as a tenor but I assume Jeremy isn't THAT Jeremy Vine.. though I suppose he would be the right age... !

Well I suppose composers want different things from a performance but at least the actors voices were kept for the broadcasts. Although Oz Clark sings Sam's songs without too much embellishment, the fact that it is clearly Bill Nighy in the broadcast makes them so much more powerful emotionally and of course is far more natural.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:38 PM   #179
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Hmmm.. I don't know how many versions of this adaptation there are.....

The one Mith, Arathornjax, Hookbill & I are using is the 13 episode series, re-edited from the original 26 episodes (which was later re-re-edited into a slightly different form in response to the Jackson movies), so we're using the 'middle' one. Check the transcripts I've been linking to at the start of my introductions for each episode.
Someone ought to try and work out the differences - even I don't know! The original 26 episode version was re-edited into 13 hours although this only affected the episodes following the Breaking of the Fellowship until Mount Doom.

As I've said, I wasn't involved in that process - in fact, I don't think I was even told it was going to happen. The producer had pretty much got tired of me - I was constantly picking away about things that weren't right during recording until she finally lost patience! I think that the short scenes cutting back and forth between Frodo, Sam and Gollum and the Others were lumped together into longer scenes. I have read that new linking narration was added, if so then Michael Bakewell must have written it; certainly I wasn't asked!

When the films came out, the BBC wanted to issue the series in three 'volumes' but of course this is difficult, since chronologically events in TTT overlap with events in TROTK. I think very little was changed for this new release, other than the fact that the openings and closings were dispensed with altogether - hence the difficulty people with this recording have of knowing where one episode (under the old ordering) begins and ends.

For this release I was asked to write new head- and tail-pieces for Ian Holm which I did and, on the day or recording, they realised they had forgotten to book an announcer to read the new opening and closing announcements to each of the three volumes, so I read them!
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:48 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
Ah so I wasn't hallucinating when I thought that the singer was sometimes listed as Jeremy Vine. Matthew Vine is now quite well known as a tenor but I assume Jeremy isn't THAT Jeremy Vine.. though I suppose he would be the right age... !
Actually he was - or is - THAT Jeremy Vine!! The very same...

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Well I suppose composers want different things from a performance but at least the actors voices were kept for the broadcasts. Although Oz Clark sings Sam's songs without too much embellishment, the fact that it is clearly Bill Nighy in the broadcast makes them so much more powerful emotionally and of course is far more natural.
Clark sang on the broadcasts - performing the extended lay of Theoden and the Ride of the Rohirrim. His recording of Sam's songs was, as I say, made later.

I think Stephen was conscious of creating a, literal, 'record' of his compositions and so wanted them to be performed 'professionally' for posterity. Bill was far more emotional and involved to my mind and I always thought people would rather have had the original cast. However, at least the recording allowed us to have longer versions of the various themes than were ever heard in the series.
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Old 03-28-2008, 04:54 PM   #181
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Thank you!!!!

I have been pondering that for years - he cropped up in the Diocesan newsletter
years ago for some reason - maybe involved in Christian Aid - so it didn't seem beyond the bounds of possibility that he might have been a chorister. But it was never mentioned in any bigraphical articles I read so I more or less gave up the notion.

Wow...
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:42 PM   #182
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Before the discussion moves on without me tomorrow, there are a couple of things I would like to add. Firstly that while Treebeard's first song is part of the plot, his second "When spring unfolds the beechen leaf" gives a hint of an unexplored vista as far as the adaptation is concerned. Very clever to please the book devotees by acknowledging the Entwives without slowing the action by talking about them. The hobbit / treebeard scenes also give great proof of what can be done with the voice alone. I don't know whether any "magic" was worked but it is just so clear that Treebeard is vastly older and bigger than the hobbits - who sound much more boyish by comparison (whereas their voices sound merely young with the other hobbits).

To go back to the death and funeral of Boromir, I don't want to start an argument but given that Tolkien was both a devout Catholic and extremely proud of his Viking heritage (ref Donald Swann's intro to "The Road goes ever on" we should not be suprised that it is possible to identify elements of both.

Boromir has the opportunity to make a "good death", he confesses and asks for forgiveness - and is reassured by Aragorn. I believe the Catholic church prefers burial to other methods of disposal of bodies but the English are a seafaring nation and sea burial has often been a necessity and is still a choice and perfectly acceptable to the Anglican church (one of the designated sea burial grounds is off the Isle Wight and you can see them leave, robed vicar and all, from our local jetty). Many others have their ashes scattered on the water so I would contest that it is not part of the Christian tradition. However Boromir's funeral is clearly Viking.

Much of Tolkiens creation can be seen as an attempt to reconcile his Catholic beliefs with his personal and professional interest in Norse culture and mythology. Aspects of both can be found; those with a particular interest will pick up o their side more, as someone at Oxonmoot 06 said that the Catholics saw hints of the final victory, pagans the long defeat. Neither side is going to get a knockout blow and trying for a points victory can be tiresome for the disinterested (nb I use disinterested NOT uninterested).

Before I digress totally in to something that belongs in books, I do think the manner of Boromir's death and funeral is significant because we will have the later contrasts of Theoden and Denethor's. The latter is specifically described as heathen in the books, whereas the former is another semi-Viking style since the interment in a barrow is not so far from a ship burial.

Boromir is also in his own way "taking ship" and passing into the west. The sea is so important to the stories of ME and to Tolkien (I think I have a thread coming on) that this can not be without significance. Think of Aragorn's words "Boromir has taken his road" a road may be on sea as well as land (cf the Straight Road).
The elements also have significance I think - dwarves lay their dead in stone, the orcs are consigned to ashes, elves go west .. not unfitting that one of good Numenorean blood is returned to the sea.

Finally the funeral boat is a practical solution. There are several references to disposing differently of friend and foe in the books and one in this episode - the burning of the orcs. There is the strong and recognisable desire to give a comrade a "decent" if not Christian ) burial. This was not possible so they commend him to the water - a routine practice til recently for those who died at sea too far from land.

Ramble over...
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:00 PM   #183
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Before the discussion moves on without me tomorrow, there are a couple of things I would like to add. Firstly that while Treebeard's first song is part of the plot, his second "When spring unfolds the beechen leaf" gives a hint of an unexplored vista as far as the adaptation is concerned. Very clever to please the book devotees by acknowledging the Entwives without slowing the action by talking about them. The hobbit / treebeard scenes also give great proof of what can be done with the voice alone. I don't know whether any "magic" was worked but it is just so clear that Treebeard is vastly older and bigger than the hobbits - who sound much more boyish by comparison (whereas their voices sound merely young with the other hobbits).
I'm not sure than Stephen Thorne's voice was treated in any way as Treebeard: he has a deep, mellifluous voice and I had first worked with Stephen in BBC Schools Radio where he appeared in various scripts of mine either as Jesus or the Voice of God! I later requested for him to play Aslan in my radio dramatisations of the Narnian Chronicles (a role he had already voiced in the animated version of TLTW&TW); he also played Chrysophylax Dives in the 'Farmer Giles of Ham' epidsodes of my Tales of the Perilous Realm.

What I do remember was that he was swathed around the neck with garlands of gash recording tape, so that he rustled whenever he moved and spoke!!
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:07 PM   #184
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How ingenious - I do hope you will reveal the secrets of the shelob squelch in due course!!!
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Old 03-29-2008, 05:08 PM   #185
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A digression...

We've had other threads exploring Tolkien's sources, so its probably not worth getting side-tracked too far into it here. My own feeling is that his 'sources' were almost entirely mythological (ie 'pagan'), though his treatment of them is often influenced by his own faith. For instance, the banner Arwen weaves for Aragorn -

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The raven banner was also a standard used by the Norse Jarls of Orkney. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, it was made for Sigurd the Stout by his mother, a völva or sorceress. She told him that the banner would "bring victory to the man it's carried before, but death to the one who carries it." The saga describes the flag as "a finely made banner, very cleverly embroidered with the figure of a raven, and when the banner fluttered in the breeze, the raven seemed to be flying ahead." Sigurd's mother's prediction came true when, according to the sagas, all of the bearers of the standard met untimely ends. The "curse" of the banner ultimately fell on Jarl Sigurd himself at the Battle of Clontarf:

Earl Sigurd had a hard battle against Kerthialfad, and Kerthialfad came on so fast that he laid low all who were in the front rank, and he broke the array of Earl Sigurd right up to his banner, and slew the banner-bearer. Then he got another man to bear the banner, and there was again a hard fight. Kerthialfad smote this man too his death blow at once, and so on one after the other all who stood near him. Then Earl Sigurd called on Thorstein the son of Hall of Sida, to bear the banner, and Thorstein was just about to lift the banner, but then Asmund the White said, "Don't bear the banner! For all they who bear it get their death." "Hrafn the Red!" called out Earl Sigurd, "bear thou the banner." "Bear thine own devil thyself," answered Hrafn. Then the earl said, "`Tis fittest that the beggar should bear the bag;'" and with that he took the banner from the staff and put it under his cloak. A little after Asmund the White was slain, and then the earl was pierced through with a spear.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raven_banner
A 'raven' banner which brings victory to the man its carried before but death to the one who bears it is certainly reminiscent of the banner Arwen wove for Aragorn - it brought him victory, but its bearer (Halbarad) died on the Pelennor.

So, the banner Arwen weaves is not 'cursed' in the same way (as far as we know) as the raven banner woven by Jarl Sigurd's mother is, yet, I think its clear that the one iepisode is 'influenced' by the other. In the same way, I think (just as the entry into Edoras of Gandalf, et al, which we will see in the next episode, is influenced by the arrival of Beowulf & his thegns in the poem) Scyld's funeral is behind Boromir's. This is not about starting an argument between Christians & non-Christians, but about source analysis, & the 'echoes' which Tolkien is setting up. For any reader familiar with the literature Tolkien loved its difficult not to be reminded of them when reading his fiction. As I've said, I don't see Boromir's last words as a 'Confession' in the Catholic sense :

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Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo," he said. "I am sorry. I have paid." His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. "They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them." He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again. "Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed." 'No!" said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. 'You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!" Boromir smiled. "Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?" said Aragorn. But Boromir did not speak again.
though of course Tolkien may have done. He stated there is no overt references to 'religious' practices in the story (or something along those lines), but that the religious element has been absorbed into the story. So, those who perceive a Catholic/Christian dimension are perfectly entitled to do so as far as I'm concerned. This (for me at least) is simply about pointing up the sources Tolkien drew on, not arguing over the way individual readers interpret particular incidents. Of course, one can choose to interpret Boromir's final words as a 'confession' & request for absolution, but I'm not aware of a particular incident in a Biblical/Christian writing that could be cited as a 'source' for Boromir's death in the way that we can find clear Pagan/mythological/Saga sources for so many of the events in the story.

EDIT - its possible to argue that Tolkien's faith comes through in the way he uses some of his sources & gives the heroic 'ideal' a negative twist (Denethor's 'heathen' behaviour is a classic example, & is probably also based on accounts like those of Ibn Fadlan's about pagan Rus funeral practices
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Ibn Fadlan describes the hygiene of the Rūsiyyah as disgusting (while also noting with some astonishment that they comb their hair every day) and considers them vulgar and unsophisticated. In that, his impressions contradict those of the Persian traveler Ibn Rustah. He also describes in great detail the funeral of one of their chieftains (a ship burial involving human sacrifice). Some scholars believe that it took place in the modern Balymer complex. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Fadlan[1]


Digression ends.... On to episode 7 tomorrow

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Old 03-30-2008, 12:30 AM   #186
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Final Digresion

Ok, my last point on this then on to the next section.

Why I said that Boromir's funeral could be argued not to be pagan is because of my knowledge of Viking/Norse burial customs among other things.

My point comes down to the notion of Norse paganism. Did the Norse use ships to bury their dead? Yes, usually great chieftons, members of the aristocracy or kings who had the wherewithal to afford this burial. Ships were not cheap and they were labor intensive, and more often than not were left to the heirs. Your average warrior was not buried in a ship but in a mound (and it could have a ship outline like at Lindholm Hoje in Jutland). Villagers were usually buried in mounds in a communal graveyard of their village. Local farmers were usually buried near their farms and aristocracy near their dwellings so remaining family and descendants could maintain contact with their ancestors.

Goods were provided to the dead, usually based on occupation. If you were a merchant, scales were included as well as other items you did in daily life. A warrior would also be buried with their shield (or shields), sword, ax, spear and any other weapon they used. In all cases some mode of transportation was buried with the deceased, a wagon (especially for wealthy women in Denmark), horse(s), ox(en) or cow/cattle. A method of transportation was given because the Norse believed that to get to the afterlife was a journey, and transportation would be needed. Food was also buried (based on the season on the year), and other items that the deceased would need in their journey to the afterlife, or for their stay in Hel which was rather boring.

The notion that all or many Norse were buried in ships or even in ship mounds is false. More common than not, most were simply buried in mounds. In terms of cremation and having that done in a ship that is by far more common with the Swedes (those Viking from that geographic area) then with the Danes or Norwegian Vikings. Ibn Fadhlan gives the best description of a Viking cremation with a longship. Also, it depends on the era of history on whether cremation was used. During the Roman period of history, cremation was used very frequently in all regions of Scandinavia. During the Viking period of 700 to 1100 C.E. burial methods and rituals depended on geographic area and local traditions and customs.

So based on this, what IS pagan about Boromir's death? The use of a boat is usually considered, and I can accept it (to a point). However, I do feel that there is a valid argument that in Norse/pagan culture, the boat would have been used to transport Boromir to the afterlife. In LOTR there is no mention that men needed transportation to wherever men go, beyond the Halls of Mandos, or a belief by the people of Gondor in such a practice particularly. The kings of Gondor and the Stewards were laid in tombs in Minis Tirith, and Tolkien in an interview said they are more like the Egyptians in Gondor in how they deal with their dead (grand tombs etc). When Theoden is slain, Snowmane is buried on the Field of the Pelannor and not with Theoden. Theoden himself comes the closest in my mind to a true Norse or pagan burial where he is "laid in a house of stone with his arms and many other fair things he had possessed, and a mound was raised over him." It is possible then to say that perhaps the men of Middle Earth did not have the belief of needing transportation and that is why it is missing. This though would also support my notion that this is not a pagan burial but one of necessity.

Thus though using a boat may be considered a pagan symbol, I feel it can be argued that in this case, it is not. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli used the boat for ease, and so that Boromir's body would not be despoiled. Boromir was laid in the boat with his weapons and personal items. Is that Norse or pagan influenced? I could agree that it is. Overall though, I just feel that Boromir's funeral is one of ease/necessity for the 3 hunters who were pressed for time. They did their best to honor their companion, which is heroic. Tom Shippey has pointed out, it is that heroic nobility that linked myth with history and Christianity which Tolkien loved.

So in the end, I think any reader can determine what they want, whether there are elements of a "last rites" in Boromirs confession to Aragorn, or if there are pagan or Norse rites in his funeral. For me, it may have some pagan and some Christian elements, but it is really a funeral of necessity and done in a way that is heroic in honoring their fallen comrade. I look forward to our "new" discussion this week as we begin moving toward Isengard and Ilithien.
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:49 AM   #187
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Sorry, everybody peeps...

I'm not going to be able to do episode 7 today as I promised - me & the missus are too busy . And to be honest it will probably be 2 or 3 days before we can get round to it, as we have the in-laws turning up tomorrow for a visit.....

So, you'll have to wait for my intro ..... or, if anyone wants to volunteer themselves & start off the discussion for this one (I doubt you could do worse than me....) please go ahead & we'll jump in later.

This one should be interesting as it has the first big battle (how well does it work on radio - & could it have been done differently? Its also our introduction proper to the court of Edoras. This is one of my favourite parts of both the book & this adaptation - Eowyn is a fantastic creation, a potential Aethelflaed - but would Tolkien ever have gone so far as to have a queen of Rohan ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aethelflaed
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:28 PM   #188
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End of Term

Sorry I am almost done listening to this week's session and am behind because of it being end of term and I am trying to get finals and other stuff in prior to the deadline. Anyway, if no one else posts a review by tomorrow when I have more time, then I'll start it off.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:15 PM   #189
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The King of the Golden Hall

Transcript at http://www.tolkienradio.com/goldenhall.html

davem, hope this ok and I'm sure it won't be up to your professional level but I'll give it a shot! Also, hope the time with the in-laws went well, and that you and the wife enjoyed your time with them and together.

This episode begins with the the Ent Moot and their decision to go to war. Merry and Pippin are impatient with the time the Ents are taking prior to the decision being made. The Ents decision is announced by a loud song after Treebeard announces to Merry and Pippin that this could be the last march of the Ents.
I really love Treebeard and Stephen Thorne does an excellent job in conveying an image of an Ent vocally. His voice is deep and loud, while soft and firm at other times.
I know others will disagree and that is fine, but I'm not a fan of the Ents song. I would have preferred a chant instead of a song. Not sure why, but that is just me and my impression, and I've always felt that way.

I really enjoyed the scene at the Golden Hall. I thought the scene at the gate with the laying of the weapons at the doorway really was well done. I liked the interaction of Gimli and Aragorn and Gimli's willingness to follow Aragorn's lead here. I think this contrasts nicely with the scene in the previous episode where the three chasers meet Eomer and Gimli and Legolas speak up against Eomer and his ignorance. Here Aragorn has some arragance and is admonished by Gandalf to do the right thing to which Aragorn does and Gimli follows suit. Not sure if this was on purpose in preparing the script, but it shows a side of these friends and companions that I think is nicely done.

The interplay now between Wormtongue and Gandalf is also very enjoyable. I feel that Paul Brooke does an excellent job in bringing Wormtongue to life and for me, I enjoy his interaction even more than the movie. I also like that in this scene more time is taken to show the control/influence of Wormtongue over Theoden, with Theoden not even realizing it, though apparently still in control of his facilities.

The interaction of Gandalf with Theoden now shows to me a great example of how Gandalf is able to fulfill his task by sparking hope in the people of Middle Earth, specifically here with Theoden.

There is A LOT in the episode that I enjoy, and one that I have to mention here is the transitions between various scenes. The use of the language in the script like here where Gandalf says to Theoden that he looks to Mordor for our despair, and then hints that also that way lies the hope. Then the narrator comes in and the scene switches to Frodo and Sam. The transitions are smooth and I think really help to eliminate confusion for those who may not be die hard fans.

A personal note here. I had my 14 (well, on Tuesday coming) year old son with me, and he decided that though Andy Serkis does and excellent job, he feels that Peter W. here has to be considered an equal performance. I'm sure that will generate a comment or two, but I agree with my son on this.

Ian Holm does an excellent job of bringing out Frodo's despair in the fact that if they get the job done, there won't be a need for food or anything. I think Ian just does a tremendous job with Frodo from this point (well, from the Breaking of the Fellowship on; well, ok, he does a top notch job for the entire series, but I really think we see a change in the character as brought out by Ian Holm from the Breaking of the Fellowship on in terms of his inflections, his level of his voice, and how he portrays the character from here on out) on and we can really hear the change which brings about a visual image as well. How I see Frodo at the beginning and how I am seeing him now is really quite different and I think that is due to how Ian Holm voices/acts out the character.

I also like that as we go back to Theoden, that the script takes a good chunk of time and gives it to Theoden and company, while Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli though playing significant roles, don't overwelm the new characters. Guess I am saying that I really like the balance done in the scene.

There is so much in this episode I could be writing all night, but I am literally exhausted and will just touch on a few points. I would hope others would touch on things that I have just brushed over and not discussed, or not done justice.

The interplay between Aragorn and the Orc foreshadows what is to come and I liked that. It allows the listener to anticipate what is coming, to infer and that often causes increase excitement and desire to continue to listen. I also like that it is Erkenbrand that arrives and not Eomer, and that Eomer retreating with Gimli to the caves is so important to me because it shows to me (in a listener/reader response mode) how much Gimli is able to get past slights (intended or not) and work with those he needs and eventually develops friendships. I think this is true of Legolas and is also true of Eomer. I enjoy that in this adaptation that bantering and comradeship was included as I think it is something important for the listener to understand.

Like I said, excuse my spelling errors, and the facts that my thoughts are 1. my thoughts and 2. done with about 12 hours of sleep over the last 3 days (I am done after 12:30p.m. tomorrow and get rest and recuperate prior to doing it again next term).

Cheers!

AJ
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:44 PM   #190
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I constructed a faily substantial reply to this and teh computer swallowed it - honest ... I have to go now and probably won't be online tomorrow since I have a family thing so ... can we have a few days grace? I promise I will get a reconstructed and maybe improved post up on Monday?

Thank you....
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:51 PM   #191
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We're hopefully going to get around to listening to this one tomorrow. I hope everyone is ok with leaving Ep. 8 till next week?

Thanks to Arathornjax for his brilliant intro, btw.....some very good points to start us off.
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:13 AM   #192
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A few things struck me during this episode. First, the encounter with Theoden. I'm so glad we got the 'book' version rather than the histrionics of the movie. Its clear that Theoden is not 'possessed' or the victim of any kind of 'magic', but simply worn down by Grima's ill counsel. In short he has lost all hope in the face of what he has been convinced are overwhelming odds. I love how Jack May plays this. Again, I don't know whether he knew the book beforehand, but he captures the character's pshychological state. This Theoden is a warrior who has been convinced there is no point fighting but deep down is just waiting for the slightest glimmer of hope. As soon as Gandalf arrives & shows him that glint he forgets his despair & rallies not simply himself, but his whole people.

I mentioned previously that battles on radio are necessarily difficult. You can't see what's going on & you can't really have a narrator giving a blow-by-blow despription. The battles in this adaptation are very stylised - this one has character conversations intercut by choral singing - Pelennor Fields, as we'll see, uses character conversations intercut with a song which was composed after the event:
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Narrator: And so King Théoden and the last of the Rohirrim came to Minas Tirith, to the Pelennor Fields. It was a great battle, afterwards told in many a song in the feast-hall of Meduseld.
This is something I like about this adaptation, because I think it brings out the 'legendary' nature of the story - as in the book we get the sense that these are events that happened a very long time ago.

Thankfully, because of these limitations the battles don't overwhelm the adaptation. Both Helm's Deep & Pelennor Fields take up about 10 pages of the book & maybe ten minutes of the production. All they need, really. LotR is a book about a war certainly, but one written by someone who had been in a war & knew that war is usually like that - a lot of slogging around, a lot of hanging around, & then a short, bloody battle.

The Frodo/Sam/Gollum scenes are again perfectly judged. Frodo's increasing resignation (Are we ever likely to need bread again?) is brought home. He has convinced himself that the end of the Quest will mean the end of his life - one way or another. I think Tolkien mentioned in one of the letters that Frodo expected to die & that he couldn't actually cope with surviving. Increasingly now we'll find Sam trying to warn Frodo of the danger they face from Gollum & Frodo merely responding with a 'don't worry, we aren't throttled yet...' etc. The scenes in the Dead Marshes again follow the book. The 'horror' is rooted in sadness & waste, in the fact that all that beauty & nobility came to nothing but rottenness, not in 'spooks' coming to get you! The danger of the marshes is that despair & hopelessness will overwhelm you, & its wonderful how this reflects back on the events at Meduseld. You get the sense that the real horror of battle is not the battle itself but the aftermath. Ian Holm nails that perfectly. And on that note - I'm not sure this adaptataion doesn't bring home the real facts of war better than the book - the stark contrast between the horrors of the old battlefield full of the corpses of the dead with the 'glorious' victory over the armies of Saruman at Helm's Deep is shocking. The Last Alliance won a victory over Sauron, but its lasting memorial is the corpse-ridden Dead Marshes. The Rohirrim defeat the forces of Saruman, but both good & evil fell. Even as we exult at the appearance of Gandalf with Erkenbrand & the annihilation of the enemy we can't help but hear Frodo's words echoing across the long leagues of Middle-earth & down the long years to us today:
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I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, with weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead.
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:44 PM   #193
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What's Up

Just wondering where we are on this. Haven't seen any posts etc. This topic came up over at TheOneRing.Net and I let them know we had a discussion here so perhaps we'll get some more traffic. Hope that was ok.

Are we moving forward this Sunday to the next episode?
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:03 AM   #194
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Originally Posted by ArathornJax View Post

Are we moving forward this Sunday to the next episode?
Hopefully - or I should say I definitely mean to. Of course, the boss (our six month old) has the final say on whether I have time.....

As to interest in the thread generally - we've had nearly 3,000 views at the time of writing this, but very few participants. I'm assuming that most people on here haven't heard the series, so they're reading what we post but not feeling able to join in. Hopefully some people will buy their own copy as a result of reading this.

That said, I know there are a fair few Downers who do have it because they've posted on here - they just don't seem to be posting anymore . Short answer is I don't know why this thread has so few participants but so many viewers.

I don't know whether I took the right approach - doing an episode a week. Maybe it should just have been a general discussion of the series as a whole - & if people want to change to that now that's OK with me.

All that said, if you take a look at the Chapter-by-Chapter discussion of LotR we did a few years back we often ended up (in the later chapter discussions) with only 2 or three participants.....
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:47 AM   #195
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First, the encounter with Theoden. I'm so glad we got the 'book' version rather than the histrionics of the movie. Its clear that Theoden is not 'possessed' or the victim of any kind of 'magic', but simply worn down by Grima's ill counsel. In short he has lost all hope in the face of what he has been convinced are overwhelming odds. I love how Jack May plays this. Again, I don't know whether he knew the book beforehand, but he captures the character's pshychological state. This Theoden is a warrior who has been convinced there is no point fighting but deep down is just waiting for the slightest glimmer of hope. As soon as Gandalf arrives & shows him that glint he forgets his despair & rallies not simply himself, but his whole people.
It's strange... Looking back (or listening back) at the decisions we took in making the radio series, I am more often pleased than disappointed...

The film interpretation of Théoden's mental thralldom to Saruman is so imbued with comic-book/horror-movie imagery as to be - had it not been done as well as it was - totally risible.

Like so many aspects of the story-on-film, it abandons Tolkien's characterisation in favour of OTT hokum and cinematic trickery. Maybe that was necessary for the average cinema-goer who was not familiar with Tolkien, but what is lost is the subtle, insinuating evil of Sauron's power as shown in the book and, as a result, a lessening of Théoden's humanity...

Jack May was splendid in the role and I especially love his low growling voice in those early scenes...
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:14 AM   #196
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I'm sorry I haven't participated much so far - I have the recordings, but the fact that they are cut differently makes it difficult for me to find the right starting and finishing points. As preparation for the Tolkien Seminar has priority at the moment, I'm not taking the time for that complicated selection.

My research for the paper I will be presenting did lead me to a review of the radio production in Brian Rosebury's Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon. Here are a few excerpts for your enjoyment:
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The 13-hour BBC radio production is, of course, fundamentally hampered by its inability to suggest the physical and cultural presence of Middle-earth, other than through inevitably rather generalised sound-effects...
That statement is less a criticism than a simple analysation of the shortcomings of the audio medium. Praise is given for the use of narration from Tolkien's text to give glimpses.

Dialogues are praised as well-delivered and skilfully abridged, with special mention of Woodthorpe's Gollum, though abridgements are said to tend to "flatten the text in the direction of an adventure story."

In summary Rosebury writes:
Quote:
The strength of the BBC version as an adaptation lies in its largely faithful, and nearly complete, realisation of the sequence of events (...): in that sense, if no other, the criterion that as little as possible of the original should be lost is met more closely by this than by the movie versions.
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Old 04-12-2008, 04:09 AM   #197
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I'm sorry I haven't participated much so far - I have the recordings, but the fact that they are cut differently makes it difficult for me to find the right starting and finishing points. As preparation for the Tolkien Seminar has priority at the moment, I'm not taking the time for that complicated selection.

My research for the paper I will be presenting did lead me to a review of the radio production in Brian Rosebury's Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon. Here are a few excerpts for your enjoyment:

"The 13-hour BBC radio production is, of course, fundamentally hampered by its inability to suggest the physical and cultural presence of Middle-earth, other than through inevitably rather generalised sound-effects..."

That statement is less a criticism than a simple analysation of the shortcomings of the audio medium.
If, of course, you accept it as a 'shortcoming' at all. In defence of radio - the closest of all dramatic forms to the oral tradition of storytelling - it might be argued that the absence of visual imagery heightens the listener's ability to create his or her own visuals within the theatre of the mind.

I hope this won't sound too reactionary and oversensitive, but in my experience, the medium of sound is limited only by the imaginative limitations of those who hear it.

Today, we are swamped with Tolkien/Middle-earth imagery: it is interesting that the first readers of Tolkien's story had none other than the Ring/Eye motif on the dust-wrappers, the accompanying maps, the words on the page --- and the pictures in their heads...
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:10 AM   #198
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Today, we are swamped with Tolkien/Middle-earth imagery: it is interesting that the first readers of Tolkien's story had none other than the Ring/Eye motif on the dust-wrappers, the accompanying maps, the words on the page --- and the pictures in their heads...
I would agree that the auditory allows the listener to visualize what is going on. I read the LOTR back in the mid 1970's and I developed my own image of each character and the scenery. I am an avid hiker and in my youth I did a lot of backpacking (still do some, 1x a year or every other year depending on the back and the knee, middle age is starting to suck!), and I created many images of locations in Middle Earth. This is something I still do. For example, for me this is the Falls of Rauros, North Clear Creek in Colorado:



I was also thinking that next time I read the trilogy, I am going to read along with Bob Inglis on my MP3 or iPod. That will allow me to take in more of the text and catch items I may tend to skim.

As far as format, I like going over each episode and reviewing them. I would hope we continue along that lines. I just wanted to make sure that we were a go for the next episode so I could listen to it today (which I will do). As far as posters, I meant since we last discussed the current episode.

Cheers,

AJ
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:23 AM   #199
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If, of course, you accept it as a 'shortcoming' at all. In defence of radio - the closest of all dramatic forms to the oral tradition of storytelling - it might be argued that the absence of visual imagery heightens the listener's ability to create his or her own visuals within the theatre of the mind.
I think this is another reason this adaptation feels so close to the book - not simply because it uses so much of Tolkien's text/dialogue, but also because it doesn't impose someone else's images on you. That's the unavoidable problem with any visual presentation of any story, & it doesn't matter how much love & effort the designers put into it - it will always fail to match with the mental images of anyone who knows the story & worse to my mind it will fix their vision in the mind of any one who comes to the book later.

Of course, we live in a time when there is an assumption that every popular book will automatically be adapted for the screen, & there is an expectation that a movie or tv series will follow quickly on publication. In short, I agree absolutely with Brian's point about the oral tradition. LotR comes out of the oral tradition in a very real sense, & is a work that works best when 'heard' - either when read by a skilled storyteller or in your own head as you read. JRRT can tell you that Arwen was the most beautiful of the Children of Illuvatar after Luthien, but how many of us think Liv Tyler fits that bill? Not to say she isn't attractive, but is she beautiful enough to be a convincing Arwen? Or more simply - is she your Arwen? And that could be applied to any of the characters of course - my overwhelming feeling while watching the movies was that so much of what I was seeing was just 'off', it was (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Middle-earth....
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:08 PM   #200
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Rosebury's comment is in the context of comparing the movie versions with the radio production (favorably for the BBC, at that!), so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at his kind of expectation there. As far as my personal experience goes, I love both reading aloud to others and being read to, with all of the imaginative possibilities that come with it. I remember the first calendar images I saw back in the 70s - I really disliked them, as they didn't seem to fit in with my concept of LotR characters at all.
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